I've worked from home long before the coronavirus outbreak forced the rest of the world to go remote. When I used to talk about my job as a freelance writer and video editor — and the fact that virtually all my working hours were spent alone in my apartment, on my computer — my friends here in France would usually say that they could never have the discipline or organizational skills to work from home. But as we've seen since the pandemic's arrival, the human capacity for télétravail had been greatly underestimated.
Since telework became a necessity throughout the rolling lockdowns around the world, some employees have even come to enjoy working from home so much that they dream of never going back to the office. Remote work, of course, has its advantages: You don't need to commute — which saves money and time and worries about bad hair days! — and you can work from your garden or your balcony with fresh air and a nice view. You can spend more time with your loved ones. You can even take care of household chores during breaks from your laptop screen.
Get up-shower-breakfast, work-work-lunch-work and work until the evening.
But there is one big drawback: isolation. None of the back-and-forth dynamics of in-person meetings, no real chance for spontaneous chats (about work, or NOT about work) with colleagues over coffee, lunch or after-hour drinks, no brainstorming, no birthday cakes … Just you in front of your screen.
Still, what actually got to me the most after more than three years of full-time telework was not that much different than what can weigh on people who go to the office: the routine, five days a week. Get up-shower-breakfast, work-work-lunch-work and work until the evening. At some point, even my non-work activities with people in person were not enough. My partner and I were waiting for the weekend to get out, but sometimes were even too tired to do anything.
An average (working?) breakfast in Foxy the van — Photo: foxy_the_van via Instagram
So in 2018 we took a two-year break to travel in a van around Europe. I finally jumped back into my telework life again in March, just days before the lockdown was imposed in France. Contrary to hundreds of millions of people around the world, I didn't need time to adapt. Instead, I was worried that it might quickly get tiresome again to sit in front of a computer all day such a long stretch of freedom.
At some point, even my non-work activities with people in person were not enough.
Fortunately, I now have a secret weapon: my van, a.k.a. Foxy. Since the lockdown ended, I've taken telework to another dimension: from time to time, I work in the van, my second home on wheels, while my partner is driving towards our weekend destination on Friday afternoons, or when we're away and don't want to come back home just yet.
This may sound like what some have dubbed the "digital nomad" life. That is not the aim. I prefer to separate work from long-term travel, but it's nice to have something in between — work stability from your home office with an added ability to escape the routine by working on the road. So, for example, when the weekend arrives, you're already at your chosen location. All I need is an auxiliary battery with an inverter to plug my computer, good access to a 4G network and a comfortable seat. And with Foxy the van, I have it all.
So maybe the secret to maximizing the home office life is to have at least another place to work from: You're still at home in front of your computer, but with a different view.